Photographers share tips on perfect shots for your engagement & wedding day

If you think of all the special moments you’ve had in your life, most likely the No. 1 way you go about documenting those are with photos. And for your wedding day, photos are what help make and keep that special day even more special.

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By LaTria Garnigan
Photography by Erin Gray Cantrell and Sam Bennett

We chatted with two local photographers — Sam Bennett of Cutting Edge Images, Inc. and Erin Gray Cantrell of Blush Magnolia Photography — who gave some great tips for couples on what to expect when looking for a photographer, what to expect the day of the shoot and tips on lighting and great times of the day to capture that perfect moment.

>>>What do you as a photographer need to know when planning an engagement or wedding shoot?

Sam: Planning these shoots is extremely important so you don’t show up clueless. I always do two things before a shoot. (1) First, I consult with the bride to see what type of photos she wants so that I don’t suggest things she won’t like. The consult helps to prevent all of that so that you as a photographer know exactly what she wants photographed, who she wants photographed, and how much she wants photographed. (2) I research the locations to come up with photo ideas. If you as a photographer show up to a shoot with poses and spots at the location in mind, then the bride will really appreciate that. Everything will run smoother. For the engagement shoot, I’ll just go by myself and look at the location, if I don’t know it already. This helps me get the creative juices flowing. Researching photo ideas is also a part of this.

Erin: For the engagement it really depends on the couple — some people have a location in mind and some have no idea. If it comes to us finding a place, it depends on their style. If they want outdoorsy we’ll find a nice field or a nice outside setting, and for a more urban setting we can go to downtown Atlanta. You want to go somewhere where there is not going to be a bunch of photographers, so we have a couple of secret locations that we use. For weddings, we have a consultation with them about a month before the wedding at the venue and we’ll meet at the same time of day the light is going to be at the ceremony. We’ll walk the grounds before and pick out all of the spots that will be nice during that time for us to do the individual shots.

>>>What should couples know about planning their day of photography?

Sam: That it’s extremely important to let the photographer know about certain things they absolutely want photographed. Take the time to research them and find one that you like! Photographers have their own styles, so make sure their style fits yours.

Erin: If they want a certain concept or style to go ahead and get that in mind for us (regarding an engagement shoot). We love Pinterest, so we’ll tell them to make a Pinterest board for the style of photography they like. If they have their colors picked for the wedding we’ll try to incorporate them into the engagement shoot. Bonus: for the wedding day we make a timeline but people need to know it’s a rough draft — it never goes by the minute.

>>>For engagement shoots, do couples need to supply their own props and how many outfit changes are necessary?

Sam: This is very subjective. Some photographers, like me, will include an outfit limit in their pricing structure to save time. If a couple has five outfits but they paid for a two hour session, most of that time will be spent changing clothes and not getting the photos they wanted. Pick outfits that have special meaning to you, not just ones that look good. As for props, sometimes photographers will bring their own if they have specific ideas they’d like to try. Bringing props helps you has a photographer distinguish yourself from the competition and shows that personal touch.

Erin: We have different benches and flowers but if there are specific props they want that are special to them, they need to bring it themselves. Sometimes people will have certain craft ideas they want. For outfits, it varies. It also depends on what package they’re booking — if you book a longer engagement shoot with outfit changes it adds on to the amount of time.

>>>What’s the least amount of time couples should plan for on their wedding day when booking photographers?

Sam: For the wedding day, the photographer is one of the biggest investments a bride will make. As such, it’s important you choose the right one for you. Now whether that takes one meeting or 10 is hard to say. I wouldn’t say this is a time-based choice, so much as a subjective and emotion-based one. Just make sure you choose the right photographer for you and your fiancé, and only you know what that entails.

Erin: For engagement shoots, we can do either one hour, a full session (three hours) or another option for the full session where they add on hair and makeup. We had one instance where a bride wanted to do a bridal shoot of her in her dress, which I think is great because you don’t get the time to do that on the wedding day. So she came early and we did a bridal shoot, then she changed and her fiancé came for the engagement shoot.

>>>Is there a better time of day for photography?

Sam: Absolutely! The best time of the day is either sunrise or sunset. That’s when the light is at its best quality for photographers. What we want to avoid is scheduling a shoot outdoors between noon and 4 p.m. This is when the sunlight becomes really harsh and can sometimes cause pictures to look unflattering. For me, I love shooting at sunset, which is usually from 6 to 8 p.m. during the summer months and around 5 to 7:30 p.m. during the fall and spring.

Erin: The best time to shoot is in the evening at what’s called ‘Golden Hour.’ You get all of the nice back light and everything looks like its glowing — it’s just a really pretty time of day. A good time is to start about an hour before golden hour and then shoot through it.

Sam Bennett // Cutting Edge Images, Inc. // (770) 715-8695 // email or visit

Erin Gray Cantrell // Blush Magnolia Photography (co-owned with Susan Gramling) // Email, or

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